NFL DFS Playbook & Example Lineups: Thanksgiving Day
Howard Bender pores over the data and match-ups to bring you his favorite plays for Thanksgiving Day NFL DFS contests, complete with example GPP lineups.
Welcome to the NFL DFS Playbook & Example Lineups for Thanksgiving Day!
Gobble, gobble #FANation! I certainly hope this Playbook, complete with Example GPP Lineups, finds you and your family well here on Thanksgiving. These are tough times for many of you and being together with family and friends might be difficult given the circumstances surrounding us with more and more COVID-19 outbreaks happening every day. Everyone's situation is different. Some have people nearby. Others do not. If you find yourself alone, hit me up on Twitter (@rotobuzzguy). I'll be here all day watching football and happy to chat during the games. We will also have people monitoring the chat here on the site throughout the day. Something I always remind myself of during the holidays is a quote from author Richard Bach who once wrote, "The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof." I take these words to heart, especially because my family is this #FAmily.
With regard to the Thanksgiving Day games, we've now gone from three games to two as the Steelers/Ravens games has officially been postponed due to the massive COVID-19 outbreak within the Ravens clubhouse. Both players and coaches have tested positive. With the slate now being just two games, let me remind you that I do not play cash games on short slates. There is too much overlap of players which ultimately raises the paylines. You'll see more lineup trains than ever and it becomes extremely difficult to cash. GPP tournaments are a different story. I love playing tournaments on Thanksgiving Day! If you are not a big GPP player, then this is your time to have some fun. You don't have to, nor should you, play too heavy with your bankroll, but having some skin in both games always makes it a little more exciting while you're scarfing down Aunt Millie's Jell-O mold or your grandma's famous candied yams.
Before we get to the game breakdowns and example lineups, a few reminders for those who may be joining us late, here is your three-step process to lead you up to going through your favorite Playbook plays:
Step 1: Check out the DFS Position Coaches
Step 2: Check out the rest of the relevant DFS content
In addition to the positional coaching pieces, you also have things like the DFS Watch List, where I provide you with a list of players I am looking at throughout the week. We have the NFL DFS Podcast with me and Jon Impemba (@jimpemba777), who also does the Contrarian Corner video and check out the DFS Bargains from Jen Piacenti (@jenpiacenti). Our Master of Tools, Matt Selz (@theselzman), supplies you data junkies with the Weekly Match-Up Report and everyone should also be reading the Weekly Game Previews and WR/CB Match-Up Report from Ryan Hallam (@fightingchance).
Step 3: Make your own list of players
It's real easy to just sit and wait for the Playbook, but as you are doing your research throughout the week, it is important to make notes and list the players who interest you the most. Maybe they end up in the Playbook and maybe they don't. If they're there, then great, it should mean we are honing in on the same things that make him a strong play. If not, maybe you're onto something else that someone overlooked. We aren't perfect and if you uncover something different, maybe you're right. I would be careful of routine groupthink and hype from beat writers, but often times someone will tell me something they saw about their local team that I missed and I am always looking to investigate more if its there. If you do, then say something in the chat. Talk it out and see what the rest of the #FAmily thinks.That's why the chat is there, isn't it?
With those three steps complete and discussions are in progress, you are ready to look at the Playbook players, make comparisons and finalize your list for lineups, so let's get to it.
Houston Texans at Detroit Lions
Spread: Texans -3
Money Line: Texans -162; Lions +143
Houston is 3-8 against the spread (ATS) in its last 11 games.
Houston is 3-8 straight up in its last 11 games.
Detroit is 6-14 ATS in its last 20 games.
The total has hit the over in 10 of Detroit's last 11 home games.
Last 5 Match-Ups:
Texans lead series 3-1 (they have only played four times in their history)
Average Margin of Victory – 7.25
Last Match-Up – Texans beat the Lions 20-13 in Houston on 10/30/2016
- Matthew Stafford , QB (thumb – questionable but expected to play)
- D'Andre Swift, RB (concussion – questionable)
- Kenny Golladay , WR (hip – questionable)
- Danny Amendola , WR (hip – questionable)
- Marvin Hall , WR (toe – questionable)
- T.J. Hockenson , TE (shoulder – questionable)
Defensive Rankings (Using DVOA):
vs Pass: 24th
vs Run: 31st
vs Pass: 23rd
vs Run: 24th
Deshaun Watson , QB HOU -- He is easily the best QB on the slate right now and is going to be incredibly chalky. The Lions are giving up an average of 258.4 passing yards per game with 18 touchdowns through the air while opposing quarterbacks are posting a solid 97.2 passer rating against them. Watson can extend plays with his legs and he is always a threat to run one or two in on his own.
Matthew Stafford , QB DET -- Using Stafford all hinges on how you feel about his thumb. He's got a partially torn ligament which looked like it was affecting him last week when the Lions got shut out by the Panthers. I would like him a little more if he wasn't on short rest, but this match-up is also pretty tasty as the Texans allow 252.4 passing yards per game and have given up 19 touchdowns through the air. If you're building multiple lineups then he becomes a decent contrarian look as a heavy dose of the ground game could open things up for him in the second half.
D'Andre Swift, RB DET -- We may as well include both Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson in this section as well, because their involvement hinges on the health of Swift who still hasn't been cleared via the league's concussion protocol. If Swift receives clearance ahead of Thursday's game, then push the chips all-in. This would be a smash-spot for him as the Texans rank 31st in DVOA against the run, they allow a league-worst 159.3 rushing yards per game and have allowed 13 rushing touchdown on the year. They also rank 25th against running back pass plays too. If Swift is out, the workload is going to be split between Peterson and Johnson just like we saw last week where Peterson got the early-down work between the tackles while Johnson handled the pass-catching work. If that's the case, I'll favor Johnson becuase I think Houston has the edge and ciould jump out to the early lead. Not to mention how quickly Matt Patricia and Darrell Bevell abandon the run.
Marvin Jones , WR DET -- Not only do the Texans rank 29th in DVOA against the opposition's No. 1 receiver, Jones will see a lot of Vernon Hargreaves in coverage which grades out as extremely favorable for him. The thumb for Stafford could still be an issue, but remeber that last week the and Jones did connect on a 50-plus yard score that was called back due to a penalty. If I'm using any receiver on the Lions, it's Jones.
Will Fuller , WR HOU -- I almost feel bad for Desmond Trufant and what kind of abuse he could end up taking in this match-up against Fuller. After being shut down by Stephon Gilmore last week, you can expect Watson and Fuller to light it up on the Thanksgiving Day stage. He's been held out of the end zone for the last two weeks but prior to that, he hit pay-dirt in six-straight games. Expect the new streak to begin Thursday.
T.J. Hockenson , TE DET -- He was dealing with a bum shoulder but was just removed from the Lions injury report and just in time. The Texans rank 28th in DVOA against the tight end position and they've allowed an average of 56.2 yards per game to them. Back at full health, expect Hockenson to pick up all those red zone targets he was seeing before the injury.
Duke Johnson , RB HOU -- I get it....it's considered a smash-spot for Johnson as the Lions run defense ranks 24th in DVOA and they've allowed a league-high 17 rushing touchdowns. But just because the match-up is favorable doesn't mean that Johnson is going to perform. He's just not that good. Maybe he gets into the end zone and maybe for that reason you can throw him into a lineup, but don't expect big numbers at all; not in yards and not in total points.
Marvin Hall , WR DET -- We don't expect Kenny Golladay back and Danny Amendola was already ruled out, so that puts Hall as the team's No. 2 wideout. He'll likely see a lot of Bradley Roby as the deep threat, so the match-up is definitely tough, but if Jones starts lighting up the Texans, maybe Roby moves across the field which then frees up Hall.
Brandin Cooks , WR HOU -- If you're stacking Texans, the chalk move would probably be Cooks who will match up against Amani Oruwariye in coverage. He sees a decent number of red zone looks so if he doesn't rack up a ton of yards, he stands a good cahnce of getting into the end zone, again as the Lions have coughed up 18 touchdowns through the air.
Keke Coutee , WR HOU -- If you want to pivot down off Cooks in your texans stack or just want a salary-saver in your lineup, Coutee, who found the end zone last week, could be a real nice low-cost play. Justin Colemand is the slot forner for the Lions and he was moved over there becuase he kept getting burned on the outside. Coutee is a shifty wideout who should have no trouble getting position on Coleman, particularly inside the end zone.
Jordan Akins , TE HOU -- A true dart-throw here as the Lions have been pretty good against the tight end. But we've seen Watson seek out his tight ends inside the end zone and Akins is priced way below the other prominent tight ends on the slate.
Houston Texans D/ST -- This is more by default because I have zero faith in the Lions defense when it comes to holding back Watson. If Stafford is struggling or the ground game isn;t working, then the Texans could be in line for some decent sack numbers and possibly an interception or two.
Washington Football Team at Dallas Cowboys
Spread: Cowboys -3
Money Line: Cowboys -148; Washington +130
Washington is 2-5 against the spread (ATS) in its last seven games against Dallas.
Washington is 2-7 straight up in its last nine games.
Dallas is 2-8 ATS in its last 10 games.
The total has hit the under in four of Dallas' last five games.
Last 5 Match-Ups:
Cowboys lead series 3-2
Average Margin of Victory – 14.8
Last Match-Up – Washington beat the Cowboys 25-3 in Washington on 10/25/2020
- Greg Zuerlein , K (back – questionable)
Defensive Rankings (Using DVOA):
vs Pass: 22nd
vs Run: 25th
vs Pass: 4th
vs Run: 13th
Alex Smith , QB WAS -- Before we start celebrating the Cowboys after their big win against the Vikings, let's all remember that Kirk Cousins still threw for more than 300 yards and had multiple touchdowns IN A RUN-FIRST OFFENSE!! I'm not a huge fan of Smith overall, but I'm not buying into this nonsense that suddenly the Cowboys are turning around their whole season. They still rank 22nd against the pass and they've still given up 24 touchdowns through the air. While Deshain Watson may be my favoriote QB on the slate, Smith is actually my second-favorite.
Andy Dalton , QB DAL -- He's a contrarian play for those who want to invest in the Dallas offense. I worry about the Washington pass-rush, personally, but if Washington goes up early, Dalton will start chucking the ball all around the field. He's got weapons to potentially hit downfield, so if you're a Dallas fan and feel compelled, go ahead. Again, just a contrarian play for me and the lineup in which I stack Cowboys will be reflective of that.
Antonio Gibson, RB WAS -- He ran all over the Cowboys back in Week 7, rushing for 128 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, and while the return of Leighton Vander Esch e helps the Cowboys run defense, one guy is not going to be able to do enough. Expect Washingotn to attack Dallas in the same fashion. They'll grind it out on the ground and allow the passing game to be opened up via play-action. Remember, Dallas is still giving up 153.8 rushing yards per game with 12 rushing touchdowns allowed.
Terry McLaurin , WR WAS -- He's dealing with a bit of an ankle injury, but he is fully expected to play Thursday. He is expected to see Chidobe Awuzie in coverage and that grades out as favorable to McLaurin. In fact, I am likely to lock McLaurin into most if not all of my GPP lineups for this slate.
CeeDee Lamb, WR DAL -- He's been Dalton's favorite target every time he's started for the Cowboys and we should see that repeat, especially with the Washington pass-rush being so strong. If that Dallas offensive line doesn't hold up, Dalton is going to have to get rid of the ball real quick which favors targets to Lamb coming out of the slot.
Dalton Schultz , TE DAL -- His potential usage comes from similar reasons to Lamb being the most-targetd guy. If Dalton is feeling the pressure, then he's going to have to get rid of the ball quickly which favors Shultz' routes. It also helps that Washington ranks just 29th in DVOA against the tight end and give up the ninth-most fantasy points per game to the position.
Ezekiel Elliott , RB DAL -- Washington ranks 13th in DVOA against the run, seventh against running back pass plays and they've allowed just nine rushing touchdowns on the year. The last time Zeke faced Washington, he totaled just 45 yards on 12 carries and caught just one pass. Now yes, Zach Martin is back on the offensive line, but is he the solution? I don;t think so. Zeke is here as a contrarian play for me, but according to our ownership forecaster, he's going to be heavily used. I will play multiple lineups and have Zeke in a few of them, but I'm not going all-in on him.
J.D. McKissic , RB WAS -- If you believe the Cowboys are going to jump out to a big lead and beat Washington then McKissic is the play, given the number of times Smith checks down to him. Unfortunately, Dallas ranks third in DVOA against running back pass plays, so it's going to be tough for him to accrue a ton of yards. Again, just a contrarianb play here.
Steven Sims, WR WAS -- This Sims may not see the majority of snaps, but he does see targets and last week he was also utilized inside the red zone. He can be a deep threat as well, so if you're looking to be contrarian, or if you're stacking Washington receivers, he's the guy I would use alongside McLaurin.
Amari Cooper , WR DAL -- Washington actually ranks 26th in DVOA against the opposition's No. 1 receiver and the match-up against Ronald Darby is definitely favorable. He saw seven targets and rang up 81 yards on six grabs during Dalton's first game back and if the Cowboys are throwing heavy, he'll remain involved.
Logan Thomas , TE WAS -- Thomas has a great match-up on paper as the Cowboys rank 31st in DVOA against the tight end but they're only giving up middle-of-the-road fantasy points each week. He sees the targets, but he still comes up a little short in the final numbers. Schultz and Hockenson are the better TEs to use on this slate, but you can get Thomas in there and just hope that Dallas is more focused on stuffing the run.
Michael Gallup , WR DAL -- If you're looking to get different in your lineups, something you always need to do when playing short slates, then Gallup might be worth the look, especially if you think the Cowboys play from behind and Dalton is forced to throw more heavily. He's been quiet throughout the year so you know ownership will be low.
Cam Sims , WR WAS -- Known in some places as "The Other Sims," Cam actually saw a ton of snaps last week and might be in line for a bigger role. He hasn't seen a workld of targets, but he's got a VERY significant size advantage over Anthony Brown who should be seeing him in coverage more in this game. Ownership should be low and if Alex Smith is incllined to throw up a jump ball in the end zone, this is the Sims you want.
Washington Football Team D/ST -- Now that the Steelers/Ravens game has been moved to Sunday, this is easily my favorite defense to use on Thanksgiving. They have the most takeaways of any of the four teams playing and they have a fantastic front-seven which should overmatch the Cowboys just as they did a few weeks back. You cand lock in the texans as a contrarian play, but this is the defense you want to be invested in here.
THURSDAY MORNING NOTES:
As of 9:30am ET, it doesn't sound like D'Andre Swift is playing. Make your pivots.
Lions' RB D’Andre Swift, listed as questionable for today due to a concussion, is unlikely to play against the Texans, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 26, 2020
|Pos||Player||Team||Opponent||Salary||*Proj. Draft %|
|RB||Antonio Gibson||Football Team||@Cowboys||$6800||--|
|Pivot||Ezekiel Elliott||Cowboys||Football Team||$8500||--|
|Pivot||Cam Sims||Football Team||@Cowboys||$4800||--|
|Pivot||CeeDee Lamb||Cowboys||Football Team||$6200||--|
|Flex||Terry McLaurin||Football Team||@Cowboys||$7900||--|
|Pivot||Washington Football Team||Football Team||@Cowboys||$4800||--|
|Pos||Player||Team||Opponent||Salary||*Proj. Draft %|
|QB||Alex Smith||Football Team||@Cowboys||$5400||--|
|Pivot||Andy Dalton||Cowboys||Football Team||$5600||--|
|RB||Antonio Gibson||Football Team||@Cowboys||$6000||--|
|Pivot||Ezekiel Elliott||Cowboys||Football Team||$6800||--|
|WR||Terry McLaurin||Football Team||@Cowboys||$7000||--|
|WR||CeeDee Lamb||Cowboys||Football Team||$5400||--|
|DST||Washington Football Team||Football Team||@Cowboys||$3700||--|